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A Woman's Education

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  240 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The acclaimed author of the best-selling The Road from Coorain and True North now gives us the third book in her remarkable continuing memoir—describing the pleasures, the challenges, and the constant surprises (good and bad) of her years as the first woman president of Smith College.

The story opens in 1973 as Conway, unbeknownst to her, is first “looked over” as a prospec
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ebook, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Jean Poulos
I read the first two books of Jill Ker Conway’s trilogy and enjoyed each of them. This, the third book, is titled “A Woman’s Education” covers the period of her career as the first woman President of Smith College, a women’s liberal college. I feel it is important to read these books in order of publishing. The first book “The Road From Coorain” (about her childhood on a sheep/cattle ranch in Australia), “True North” (about her teaching career at University of Toronto and the launching of her ca ...more
Cecilia
After hearing Jill speak at my 25th college reunion, I was compelled to read this book by and about a woman who, unbeknownst to me, had a HUGE roll in shaping my world view. When I arrived on the Smith Campus my freshman year, Jill was completing her last year as the president.

Of course our next president and every subsequent one since would be a woman - right? Of course it made sense for me to study math, become an Air Force officer and then a strategy consultant at a leading global strategy f
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Jennifer
While this book is not as entertaining as Conway's first two books, I found this slim volume to be an interesting perspective on being the first woman president of a women's college (Smith) between 1975-85. Conway describes not just her experience being president but reflects on women's education in general and how it was changing in this time period--a period when I was in college. It made me reflect on women's roles not only in academia but in other careers and the different understanding that ...more
Misti
Sep 16, 2008 Misti rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Smithies
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Jill Ker Conway was the president of Smith College in the 70s and 80s, so this book holds special significance to me. It was interesting to read about her experiences guiding the faculty and her spending decisions which apparently dramatically affected the traditions and opportunities available to today's Smithies. The increased alumnae donation programs, better CDO and of course the amazing athletic facilities are all a part of Conway's legacy. And while there is a great deal of introspection h ...more
Laura
Jul 23, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially to women
This book is amazing! I've read both of author:Jill Ker Conway's books and have enjoyed them all. This book is inspiring. The things she has accomplished are unbelievable. It is an interesting look into her life and her role at Smith College as the first female president (in the 60s) of an all female institution. Even if you are not in this field, it will inspire you to go out and do great things. It gets you started thinking what else should I be doing? I highly recommend this book to everyone!
Kathleen
I read her first two memoirs and liked them very much -- especially finding out that the author had been friends with one of my favorite literature professors from college. I found this at a used book sale (thanks again to the friends of the Newport Beach Public Library). I enjoyed reading about her experiences in becoming the president of Smith College in the late 70's but overall it was not as enthralling a tale as the others. But I'm glad I read it.
Jill
I've wanted to read this book for a long time. Not only because of her wonderful writing style but also because it's set in an area I lived in for years. So it was great fun to read about locations I knew very well.

What I didn't expect was how very candid she was and what a great insight she provided of the role of a president of a small liberal arts college for women.

It made me want to read more by Ms Ker Conway.
Sara
An absolutely engrossing memoir from a truely admirable and intellectual woman. There was lots of good food for thought about the purpose of education, both generally and specifically the value of women's colleges.
Margo
3.5 - Having gone to a woman's college, I agree with much of what she says. Many women do benefit from the environment, feel freer to discuss and debate.
Noriko
How she got to Smith's presidency and all the years she was there. I was on campus for her last year of her tenure.
Jocelyn
Q: What to do if you're 40 years old, a VP at the University of Toronto, and passionate women's education?

A: Become the president of Smith College.

Q: What to do if you've tripled the endowment, built a new athletic facility, opened the College to older women, and stretched the mission of a very traditional liberal arts college to include educating about women, preparing female students to enter highly-paid professions, and marketing itself to prospective students -- and you're only 50 years old
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Peggy
Conway's memoir covers the ten years that she served as the first woman president of Smith College, from 1975-1985. These were tumultuous years in the development of higher education curriculum as well as for women's roles in society. Conway's perceptions about college politics and feminism are insightful. I especially enjoyed her discussions about the experience of being a female leader at a women's college in the mid-70s. Her description of an event at which hundreds of young women pounded on ...more
Kirsten
"doing the conventional things - marrying, beginning a career - gave me a false sense of security, as though the task of relating inner and outer self had been definitely completed. as a young married woman in my thirties, i expected that there weren't going to be too many more iterations of the quest for self-definition. but, of course, i was wrong. i wasn't quite forty when i arrived at smith and ran instantly into one of the major challenges of adulthood. that challenge is to protect and sust ...more
Sally
Enjoyed this short book by an Australian woman who became the first woman President of Smith College in the US. The whole idea of a female-only college was strange and interesting, and I particularly enjoyed her take on institutional politics at such a tumultuous time in American society (and tertiary education) - 70s and 80s.
Paula Dembeck
This continues the author’s autobiography which she began in two books, first “The Road to Coorain” and then in “True North”.

In 1975, she moved on from a VP position at the University of Toronto to President of Smith’s College in the United States. She had a big job ahead of her juggling the needs and concerns of faculty, students, parents, trustees and alumnae. One of her major challenges was redefining life at the college and creating programs consistent with the new reality of women’s lives.
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Consuela
I would have never read this book if I hadn't enjoyed the first 2 books in Jill Ker Conway's autobiography. And I probably wouldn't have read it even then if someone hadn't loaned it to me and if I was a captive audience on a very long train ride. This book is about her 10 years as the first woman President of Smith College. I had no idea being a college president required so much work! For that it was interesting. I also loved that she stretched me to think more about ideas more deeply, primari ...more
Clayton Brannon
Everyone should read what Jill has to say. Short very well written insightful book.
Gail
Ker Conway's early life was fascinating. This part of it, as president of Smith College, was less so, but I found the history of the woman's college - especially during the turbulent 1960s/1970s - worth reading.
Morgan
Her university political life, mostly otr all in the United States--can't remember, read it in 2009.
Nothing matches Road from Cohrain for me--I loved that memoir. I suppose I'm less interested in women's politics in education now that I'm out of that field and my energies are elsewhere. Her writing about her relationships remains compelling for me, however. At least, I think she wrote a lot about them in this Memoir, too? (Monday morning no-coffee brain-drain...)
Rachel
I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as its two predecessors. It felt that she had to walk a very careful tightrope between describing her experiences at Smith honestly, and not potentially offending any faculty still at the college. Also the difficulties with her husband's health could not have been easy to write about either. She remains an inspirational figure and I was very fortunate to have met her while I was at Smith after she retired.
Judith
Oct 30, 2008 Judith rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted more of the classes she was involved in. I didn't finish this book, rare for me.
She talked about being a Vice President of The Toronto Univercity and her change to President of Smith College mostly in a negative way.
Pat Tucker
I have enjoyed Conway's memoirs. This third one covered 1975-1985, her years as the first female president of Smith College. She is an articulate thinker. Some of the details she writes about were more than I cared to know but I still found the book interesting.
Carol
I really enjoyed her book The Road from Coorain. I wanted to read more about her life after she left Australia. This book deals with her life as the first woman president of Smith College. It was not as interesting as the first book.
Joyce
Not my favorite book. Too women's lib-ish and too humanistic. It is a good book informationally about Jill's life,
particularly her presidency of Smith College from 1975-1985. I just do not care for the things she stands for.
Dawnielle
Apr 04, 2008 Dawnielle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jaime
Excellent documentation of an academic life during a turning point in higher education. This book made me so proud of Smith, my alma mater. Jill Ker Conway is me new feminist hero.
Rachel
Fascinating woman...and a fascinating life. Very interesting to read of her challenges and accomplishments as president of Smith College.
Oanh
Liked this much less than Road from Coorain and True North.
Elizabeth Lund
Enjoyable older autobiography of a mind and a career
Deb
I liked the Road from Coorain much better.
Kate
Apr 12, 2008 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All women
Recommended to Kate by: Edna Epleu
Great memoir
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Jill Ker Conway, AC (born 9 October 1934) is an Australian-American author. Well known for her autobiographies, in particular her first memoir, The Road from Coorain. She was also Smith College's first woman president, from 1975–1985, and now serves as a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2004 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women ...more
More about Jill Ker Conway...
The Road from Coorain True North: A Memoir Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women: An Anthology When Memory Speaks: Exploring the Art of Autobiography Written by Herself: Volume 2: Women's Memoirs From Britain, Africa, Asia and the United States

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